The Capital Pride Alliance has announced that the annual Pride Parade and Festival, scheduled for June 13 and 14, will be postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to the Pride Parade and Festival, Capital Trans Pride and Asian and Pacific Islander Pride will also be postponed, while partnered events including Youth Pride, Silver Pride, and DC Latinx Pride will be “similarly postponed or canceled.”
DC Black Pride has been canceled, and will not return until 2021, the Center for Black Equity has announced.
All postponed events will have new dates announced in the coming weeks, while the annual Pride Guide will become an online-only publication with free ad space “to support local small businesses that have been supportive of our LGBTQ+ community.”
The organization will also create a virtual Pride exhibition, for all registered organizations, businesses, and advocates.
“Like our fellow Pride organizers around the world, the Capital Pride Alliance has been monitoring the escalating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and has determined that the safest course of action will be to postpone all planned Capital Pride events in May and June,” Ryan Bos, Executive Director of Capital Pride Alliance, said in a statement.
“Throughout, we have worked and will continue to work closely with our federal, state, and local partners as we make decisions to ensure the safety of the entire community,” Bos said. “We will collaborate with all the agencies and our partner Prides to identify new dates and potentially new ways that our community can come together in Pride.”
Ashley Smith, Board President of the Capital Pride Alliance, called the postponement “new and uncharted territory for Pride organizers.”
“I know from my experience that the LGBTQ+ community is always determined and resilient in the face of a challenge,” Smith said in a statement. “Our history is one of struggle, and with the care and support of the hundreds of thousands of people who participate in Capital Pride events, I can say with confidence that we persevere and be there for each other in these unprecedented times.”
In a follow-up interview with Metro Weekly, Bos said that the cancelation of some of the partner events was announced last week because they were scheduled earlier on the calendar.
“This is an evolving process,” he said of the decision to postpone the larger Capital Pride celebration. “We also had a meeting with the city on the potential new parade route, so we needed to have that meeting before we made any final decision.”
When deciding between postponing Capital Pride or canceling it altogether, Bos said that a number of factors influenced the decision, including safety, as well as the degree of uncertainty around what will happen in the coming months with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other factors included the timing of the 2020 elections, the desire not to pick the same weekend as some of the other larger Pride celebrations seeking to reschedule, and the weather.
“We have over 10 contingency plans,” told Metro Weekly, acknowledging that canceling was one option — one that could still occur if the severity of pandemic does not substantially lessen by the fall — but at the present time, he’s hopeful that the Capital Pride can be successfully rescheduled.
“Most Prides around the country are targeting September or October for a new date,” he said. “Those are the months we are looking at as well. It will be in coordination with the city, based on resources that are available.”
He added: “If we are fortunate to be able to have some large gatherings before the end of the year, we want to do our best to work with our community and bring ourselves together in community. Who knows what that will end up looking like? But we know it’s important.”
Bos said that the Capital Pride Alliance had been “brainstorming and being creative on how we can create some ways to have pride and show pride virtually online. That will include opportunities through our online Pride guide, as well as our website and through social media.”
“It’s important for us to find some way for us to celebrate, to have Pride, and really emphasize or underscore our theme this year, which is #StillWe,” Bos added. “We hope that we will be able to gather as a community, in person, in some way. We will be coordinating that in partnership with all of our other Pride partners.”
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